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Here's what Santa needs to bring the Braves

What should Santa bring the Braves? Well, here's the list for this year!

For general manager John Coppolella... a big plaque that reads: "Job Well Done." He has transformed this organization from one with no farm system and no future to one that has one of the best farm systems in baseball. Give the credit to him. While he just got the title, "Coppy" has made the trades over the past 14 months that have reshaped the Braves.

For general manager John Coppolella... two more big trades in the next eight months. Before July 31, 2016, Coppy should trade Julio Teheran and Freddie Freeman in big trades - like for three players each. Then the total rebuilding process will be over and the Braves will know exactly what young players they'll have moving into Sun Trust Park.

For general manager John Coppolella… a few more trades before the team hits Orlando. We love those prospects-for-prospects trades Coppy, like the one for Manny Banuelos and even the Touki Toussaint trades. Identify more prospects you like that teams not value as highly and go get them! Never lose your aggressiveness. It’s made this a special rebuilding process.

For scouting director Brian Bridges… another pitcher in his stocking for the third pick next June would certainly look good. Just imagine adding another premium pitching prospect to the group already assembled. That’s what he needs to get with that third overall pick. Then he can focus on more position players in the early rounds of the draft.

For manager Fredi Gonzalez... patience from everyone, including this writer. Gonzalez is a nice man, but at times he shows he's not a great manager. He didn't have much to work with late last season, but there are still plenty of reasons to question his ability as a major league manager. The reporters who don't ride motorcycles with him in the offseason will ask those tough questions. We hope.

For pitching coach Roger McDowell... a warning to wipe that smile off his face. With all the pitching prospects on the horizon, McDowell will be a kid in the candy store. He's already on board with Matt Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz, and rumor has it when McDowell saw Touki Toussaint in the Instructional League he got a man crush. He will have fun working with these kids.

For staff ace Julio Teheran... a good real estate agent. Let's hope Teheran hasn't bought a house in Atlanta. The Braves must hope Teheran pitches well in the first half and, if so, becomes the top pitcher available for the July 31 deadline. He could bring in another group of three players that could help the Braves for the long-term.

For starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz... a great spring training. This kid should be given every opportunity to remain a starting pitcher. The Braves should give him a full chance before pulling the plug and putting him in the bullpen. Sure, his fastball may play better as a reliever, but what if he clicks as a starter? This will be one of the big events in March. 

For starting pitcher Matt Wisler... maturity. It's not that Matt is immature. He's a great kid who is mature. But as a pitcher, Wisler may have to become a young guy that younger pitchers have to lean on when they get to Atlanta. Wisler has a chance to be a vital part of Atlanta's rotation, which could be in flux a lot over the next several years. Wisler may be a stalwart, even an anchor, to build around.

For starting pitcher Manny Banuelos... health. Banuelos has the stuff to get big league hitters out. This is all about him staying healthy and not having to even worry about getting hurt. The Braves love Banuelos. He's a great young man and they still believe in his potential to be a top lefty pitcher. Just stay healthy Manny!

For starting pitchers Bud Norris and Jhoulys Chacin.... a good first half. Both could be trade bait before July 31.

For relievers David Carpenter, Jim Johnson, Alexi Ogando and maybe even Jason Grilli... a good first half. All could be trade bait before July 31.

For closer Arodys Vizcaino… a full shot as the closer. Leave him alone Fredi and let Vizcaino do his thing. How great would it be if he emerged as a legit Neftali Feliz-type closer?

For pitching prospects Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis… great 2016 seasons to make the trades they were involved in look even better. Blair could be ready this season, while Newcomb is not far behind. And Ellis could be in the mix in 2017. These are three solid prospects that have a chance to be part of the Atlanta rotation for years to come.

For pitching prospect Lucas Sims… a full 2016 season to prove he’ll be ready for the Atlanta rotation in 2017. He really got on track last season, and if not for the speed bump of the injury in the wreck, Sims would be knocking on the door right now. He’s close, but another full season of development might make him ready a year from now.

For pitching prospect Max Fried… a solid 100 innings in 2016. Most pitchers return from Tommy John surgery with little issues. If Fried does, he could be a top lefty prospect in baseball and a year from now we might be wondering how they could fit him into the 2017 rotation. He could be a special prospect.

For pitcher Casey Kelly… health. Kelly is one of few who have struggled after Tommy John surgery. But what if the Braves got him back on track? The potential must still be there. This should be one of the great projects of spring training.

For pitching prospect Kolby Allard… a healthy back. Just stay healthy Kolby and the rest will take care of itself. This kid could be a star. You hate to rush your life to see something in two or three years, but many can’t wait for 2019 or so to see this kid.

For pitching prospect Touki Toussaint… how about a full season in Carolina with 150 innings. If he does that, look out. Then he could be in AA-AAA in 2017 and then who knows. This is a premium prospect, and he could be worth the $10 million or so the Braves paid for him in the trade with Arizona.

For catcher Tyler Flowers... a great return home to his original organization. What a great story it would be if Tyler emerges as a better hiter and, at the same time, helps the Atlanta pitchers with his solid work behind the plate. He's really become a solid baseball player, and it's going to be fun watching him back in a Braves uniform - this time in Atlanta and not Rome!

For first baseman Freddie Freeman… a good real estate agent. I still believe Freeman will be traded before July 31. If he has a good first half, and he proves the wrist is healthy, Freeman could fetch a ton before the trade deadline. He’s good, but Freeman is not the next Chipper Jones. Get three solid young talents for him and help this organization even more.

For second baseman Jace Peterson… a healthy wrist. There are rumors he might be a platoon player or has fallen out of favor and won’t be the starter. They should give this kid a chance to play another season at second base. He’s good and could get better.

For shortstop Erick Aybar… a good first half. He’ll be trade bait and would be a nice piece for a team for the last two months if the Braves trade him.

For third baseman Gordon Beckham… how about a resurgence in your career at home, Gordon? There’s talent in there; let’s just see it in your own backyard.

For infield prospect Ozzie Albies… a full season to show he’s almost ready. He’s almost ready. Albies could be a special talent.

For third base prospect Rio Ruiz… more consistency. There is interest in Ruiz by other teams, so that means he is viewed favorably as a prospect. But he’s got to be more consistent and pull the ball more instead of going the other way all the time. How great would it be if Ruiz emerges?

For shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson… just time. Time is on his side. He’ll get a full season to prove how close he is, and you can expect him in the 2017 starting lineup as the future face of this organization.

For third base prospect Austin Riley… just time. Time is on his side. The Braves can’t contain themselves about how good he might be.

For Hector Olivera… a full, healthy solid season. Let’s lower expectations on Olivera and just hope he can be a productive hitter. He might not be a star, but a productive hitter would be nice to have.

For Ender Inciarte… a solid first half to increase his value. Something tells me the Braves will be tempted to trade him. It might not be now, but this kid has a lot of value with his defensive skills. But can he hit .300 again? If so, he might be too valuable to let go.

For Nick Markakis… more power. Keep working out Nick. Get 10 homers next season.

For outfield prospect Mallex Smith… a strong first half in Gwinnett to show he’s almost ready. We need to see Mallex in August and September to see how good he might be as the starting outfielder in Sun Trust Park. Run Mallex, run!

For outfield prospect Braxton Davidson… a bit more power just to get people’s attention. He’s not getting much publicity, but Davidson had a really good season in Rome last year. He’s going to continue getting on base and improving offensively until someone notices the Braves have a decent prospect here. He could be Markakis’ replacement in 2019, if not sooner.

For Braves fans… patience. This is working. Give it more time. This could be really special, and the Braves are not even done yet. Give the front office more time to get things in place for what could be a great 1990s-like run at the new Sun Trust Park.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and email him at

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